Last week I wrote about how I had thrown caution to the wind and applied to be a volunteer performer at the 2010 Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. (Trust me: you have to capitalize all that stuff or you risk a knock on your door from the Olympic Language Police.) 

Here’s the note I just received by e-mail from “The Ceremonies Cast Team”:

“Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“We have received your application for consideration as a Volunteer Performer. [Editorial aside: You catching all these capitals?]

“In April, we will begin the audition scheduling process for auditions starting in May. As we anticipate receiving thousands of applications, this process will take several months. Please be aware that submitting an application does not guarantee an audition.

“All applicants, whether selected to audition or not, will receive information regarding the status of their application via e-mail or phone by the end of June 2009.”

Kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? Giddy even. So now I guess I just have to wait for the phone to ring–or not. Likely not. But if it does, I’ll let you know what happens next on the Long Road to Olympic Stardom…


It’s spring break in BC’s Lower Mainland and that pretty much guarantees a gloomy weather forecast. (Old joke: how do you know what the weather’s doing in Vancouver? Easy: if you can’t see the mountains it means it’s raining and if you can see the mountains, it means it’s going to rain.)

You can’t let the wet stuff dampen your holiday spirit. Just grab the Gore-Tex and a sturdy brolly (the cheerful, wind-resistant offerings from Vancouver’s Cheeky Umbrellas are well worth the bucks) and make like a local with some of these recommended rainy-day pastimes:

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

  • Visit Hong Kong without a passport on a trip to Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre, where the city’s sizeable Asian population comes to shop, eat and be entertained. 
  • Cloudy skies only heighten the moody atmosphere of the Museum of Anthropology, a celebrated repository of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art at the University of British Columbia
  • Look up when it’s coming down: head for the snow on the nearby North Shore mountains. Look for specially priced ski-and-snowshoe packages here.
  • Steamy and tropical, the domed Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park blooms with birds, butterflies and lush floral vistas. (It’s the best place for foolproof photos, too.) 
  • Indulge your inner culture-vulture at Tickets Tonight with last-minute, half-price tickets to Vancouver’s primo arts events and wait out the monsoon in a matinée.
  • Rain or shine, the Whistler Mountaineer train between North Vancouver and Whistler is the best way to take in the coastal scenery along the Sea-to-Sky corridor. (The season runs May to October.)
  • Drop your umbrella and your shoulders and say spaaaaaaah. My favourite sanctuary is still (and will likely ever be) the Absolute Spa chain, now with a new location at Park Royal in West Vancouver. 
  • When you’ve exhausted the indoor pleasures of Granville Island Public Market, pop your top and walk the False Creek seawall west to Kitsilano Beach or east to Science World.
  • Like hockey but can’t afford tickets to a game? Head downtown to Vancity Theatre for the Hockey Nights in Film series during spring break.

Where do you like to pass a rainy day in the Lower Mainland? Please share your suggestions!

(Instructions: Start a note, cut-and-paste this, replace my answers with your own.)

Three names I go by:

Howdy Canada!

Howdy Canada!

1. Canuck
2. The Great White North
3. North of 49

Three places I have worked:

1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2. Royal Canadian Mounted Police
3. Calgary Stampede

Three places I have lived:

1. 24 Sussex Drive
2. Military compound in Afghanistan
3. The North Pole

Three TV shows I watch:

1. Slings and Arrows
2. The Mercer Report
3. Corner Gas

Three places I have been:

1. Vimy
2. Rwanda
3. Space

Three people who e-mail me:

1. Michaëlle
2. Barack
3. Sasquatch

Three of my favorite foods:

1. poutine
2. maple syrup
3. Nanaimo Bars

Three things I would like to do:

1. Stop apologizing
2. Learn the Chicken Dance
3. Win the gold medal in hockey at the 2010 Winter Games

Three things I am looking forward to:

1. The first aboriginal Prime Minster
2. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games
3. The day that a Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer make the same salary as a Vancouver Canucks goalie

(Your turn: Three Things for your hometown?)

There’s this little shindig in the works ’round Vancouver these days: the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Maybe you’ve already heard? 

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

I am old enough to have lived through–and worked at–this city’s last big party: Expo ’86. And this next event is unspooling pretty much the way that previous one did: initial optimism and collective goodwill, followed by major outrage, minor scandal and moderate pessimism, and capped by a couple of months of triumphant flag-waving and generous back-patting. 

We’re in the middle phase (outrage, scandal, pessimism) now, which makes it a little easier to accept that I didn’t get tickets to any events. (Who wants to go to those darn ol’ medal-round hockey games anyway?) But I know in my heart that the currently empty bandwagon will quickly fill up again…and I won’t be on it. I’ll be stuck at home watching the spectacle of a backyard Olympics on my small-screen TV.

Which is all by way of explaining why I did a really risky and potentially embarrassing thing last night: I applied to be a volunteer performer during the special ceremony events at the 2010 Winter Games.

What can I say? I like to sing. I like to dance. I play the guitar and the piano (enthusiastically if not well). I went to theatre school. I will turn 50 during the Opening Ceremonies. I want to write about the Olympics from the inside out. I want to feel one more time that little shiver of excitement that I felt in 1986 when Princess Diana stepped off her yacht and onto the site of the Canada Pavilion (now Canada Place) and said hello to all the breathless, bilingual, Alfred Sung-suited hosts and hostesses.

It won’t happen of course. But it felt good, when I pushed the “Submit your application” button, to think what it might feel like if it did: my very own personal gold-medal experience… 

Want to fight me for the spotlight at the 2010 Winter Games? Get your application in now!

Sometimes a press release comes across my desk touting some unbelievably good travel deal and then I read the fine print and discover that’s exactly what it is: unbelievable.
So I went looking for the catch in the “20/20 Celebration Sale” that’s getting underway tomorrow at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler……and I kept looking……but there wasn’t one.

Starting February 25 at 12:01 am Pacific time, the grande dame of Whistler’s hotel scene will offer 20 rooms every day for the rest of 2009 at just $99. And even better: they’re not kidding when they say every day–there are no blacked out dates for this amazing offer: Christmas is included.

I attended the official opening of this toney property 20 years ago and have returned many times over the years–sometimes on their dime but more often on mine. It’s one of those rare hotels that never wavers in quality or customer service; it manages to add new amenities without cutting back on quality somewhere else.

I’m a huge fan of this hotel even though I’m not a skier. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed there in the winter–I usually visit Whistler in the summer or early fall because I like to hike. The resort is a great fit for couples and families with different interests–one likes to golf, for example, the other likes to spa. But let’s be frank: family-friendly doesn’t always equate with budget-friendly. Until now.

Reservations open tomorrow at 12:01 am PST until Tuesday, March 3 at 11:59 pm PST at Rates start at $99 CAD plus taxes for a moderate room and are based on a minimum two-night stay (trust me: one is not enough).  Full prepayment is required at time of booking and is non-refundable.

Now outta my way: I’ve got to get caffeinated so I can stay up ’til midnight…